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Best Lead Melt Flux?

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it will look like a slug or slurry on top, different than dross. If you pour from a ladle it is still like the slurry. Hard to get it out of the lead.

That makes sense zinc melts at 784F lead at 620F. The Zinc wouldn't be hot enough to become liquid and would make the batch thicker.

I saw a lead batch after someone left an aluminum dross tool fall in. It must have been in for 24 hours and was mixed with the lead. The lead resembled a thick cake frosting.

If Zinc got in my lead I would raise temp and mold sinkers until it was all gone.

Edited by fshng2
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Yes, but it depends on the jig.

Wheel weights are not good for small jigs or those with intricate parts but for my bigger saltwater stuff it isn't a problem.

You do have to sort them first tossing the steel and zinc ones. Then clean out tons of dross and clips after it is melted.

I have a big pot just for melting scrap. I also have a magnet on the end of a bent piece of all thread for removing the clips from the pot.Once fluxed and cleaned they are ingotized.

Only clean fluxed ingots go into my shop to be made into jigs and sinkers.

They are also good for bigger sinkers.

Iv'e used a few hundred pounds of wheel weights over the years. Anymore I only use them if they are free.

Around here wheel weights are hard to come by as so many people make saltwater sinkers out of them.

Thanks for the info regarding wheel weights. One of the local shops here said I could have as much as I want for free.

I will be molding 3/4 to 3 oz bucktail jigs.

Current soft lead inventory is about 150# which I can mix. I have read others use as much as a 25% pure lead to 75% W/W mix. What are your thoughts about mix ratio?

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Thanks for the info regarding wheel weights. One of the local shops here said I could have as much as I want for free.

I will be molding 3/4 to 3 oz bucktail jigs.

Current soft lead inventory is about 150# which I can mix. I have read others use as much as a 25% pure lead to 75% W/W mix. What are your thoughts about mix ratio?

For the biger stuff like that the ww by themselves should be fine. I never mix my alloys for jig casting. Never found the need.

Just use what I have for my saltwater stuff.

I buy Drop Out mold release by Frankford arsenault. Love the stuff. Tried the Home depot stuff and was not impressed.

The drop out sprays thinner and solidifies faster. The other stuff left thicker lines of graphite in spots in the mold as it takes a bit longer to solidfy and comes out much faster.

I ordered enough drop out to last me quite awhile. For the most part the graphite stays on the mold surface and lasts many many pours. No need to clean the jigs afterwards. Clip the sprues file them smooth and powder paint.

Edited by Kasilofchrisn
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I cast for fishing weights, scuba weights, jigs, spinnerbaits and bullets for reloading. Fluxing is essential to getting the lead to flow reliably out of the pot or ladle and into the mold. It becomes more critical in bullets, since the inclusion of impurities creates unbalanced projectiles that wobble in flight. Alloying pure lead with a small amount of tin really aids immensely in the fill out of mold cavities. Hardening is accomplished with the addition of arsenic and antimony. if you're recycling clip-on wheel weights then they have it already alloyed so no addition is necessary. Fluxing also helps bring the other good elements back into the alloy as they float to the surface in addition to preventing oxidation. I've used Marvelux, paraffin, sawdust, broken crayons, tallow,  and beeswax for fluxing. My preference is aromatic eastern red cedar or beeswax simply because they smell good when you toss them into the melted lead.

Edited by Big A
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Cheap vegetable shortning is about as good as it gets. Gulfwax is also good, but the smoke is kind of gaggy. Shortning smells like French fries.

Sawdust is OK...the Cast Boolets guys love it, but I think shortning is better. The cheaper brands are the best because they are partially hydrogenated

Avoid Marvelux at all costs. The crusty residue it leaves behind will attract water and rust your pot. It’s the only bad product Brownell’s sells.

Edited by Elkins45
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2 hours ago, Diybassfishing said:

I flux with "20 Mule Team Borax" it's available at any dollor general store and cheap for how much you need. And works really well. Stir it in to molten lead and spoon out oxidation and debris. It clumps it all up realy well too.

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If you are spooning off the oxides then it really isn’t acting as a true flux. It’s just helping with cleaning the metal. A true flux actually reduces the oxides back to the elemental metal and back into the melt. That’s why cheap partially hydrogenated shortning or rosin- heavy woods are good—they have an H+ available to pull off the O. That reminds me: rosin makes a really great flux and it smells good too. It also helps protect your pot from rust.

Also, I’m not all that enthusiastic about inhaling boron fumes.

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7 minutes ago, Elkins45 said:

 

If you are spooning off the oxides then it really isn’t acting as a true flux. It’s just helping with cleaning the metal. A true flux actually reduces the oxides back to the elemental metal and back into the melt. That’s why cheap partially hydrogenated shortning or rosin- heavy woods are good—they have an H+ available to pull off the O. That reminds me: rosin makes a really great flux and it smells good too. It also helps protect your pot from rust.

Also, I’m not all that enthusiastic about inhaling boron fumes

Thanks for the help!...how well does the heavy woods or rosin clean the metal of contaminants? 

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I don’t love sawdust, but if you leave it in and keep stirring until it completely chars to powder then you can spoon all the junk off with the powder. Rosin is the best because it melts into a gummy goo before it burns and all the junk sticks to it. If I could only have one flux it would be rosin. But if I’m just cleaning dirty wheel weights or plumbing lead I do it over a burner outside and I will use any old garbage like old experimental bullet lube sticks, sawdust, Crisco or even used motor oil. Indoors in my casting furnace rosin or shortning are all I use because the work best and stink least.

The best judge of how well your flux is fluxing is how heavy your dross is.  I keep a soup can to catch it and it used to be that a full can felt like it weighed 10 pounds. Once I switched to rosin the can got a lot lighter—-I’m skimming off more junk and losing less good metal.

I cast about 500 pounds of bullets a year, so I do a lot of fluxing.

Edited by Elkins45
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On 6/6/2015 at 8:26 PM, fshng2 said:

Thanks for the info regarding wheel weights. One of the local shops here said I could have as much as I want for free.

I will be molding 3/4 to 3 oz bucktail jigs.

Current soft lead inventory is about 150# which I can mix. I have read others use as much as a 25% pure lead to 75% W/W mix. What are your thoughts about mix ratio?

Good luck!

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Ratio is not really important for jigheads...just try to keep zinc out as it can weld itself to aluminum molds and ruin them! I test all the wheelweights with an old pocket knife that's pretty sharp. if it cuts into the weight easily, its lead. if it resists I look close for an fe or FE stamp to identify it as steel, or a zn or ZN that designates the zinc. If you know anyone who casts bullets, thet can give you pointers here. The reloaders take lead alloys seriously and have elevated alloying and heat treating to a science for bullet casting. The cast bullet handbooks have a wealth of info on fluxing, alloying, and safety on lead casting

 

 

 

 

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I am having a problem getting my lead clean enough to pour well, from my small lee pot. The lead that I am trying to use is a first me , it is from the walls of a hospital that are lined with lead . This lead is very soft and seems like you can never get it clean. Stuff just keeps coming to the surface and it does not pour very good . my pot always is clogging up . I have used plumbers lead in the past with no problems.

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22 minutes ago, normans said:

I am having a problem getting my lead clean enough to pour well, from my small lee pot. The lead that I am trying to use is a first me , it is from the walls of a hospital that are lined with lead . This lead is very soft and seems like you can never get it clean. Stuff just keeps coming to the surface and it does not pour very good . my pot always is clogging up . I have used plumbers lead in the past with no problems.

 

This sounds more like you pot isn’t getting hot enough.

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I have been having trouble with my small Lee pot pouring it gets clogged up a lot . I have cleaned the lead but can't seem to get it right . I have fluxed it several times and stuff just keeps coming to the surface in the cast iron pot I melt it in to make ingots . I have fluxed with paraffin many times and still can't get the lead where I want it. The lead I am using is from the walls of a hospital glued to the back side of the dry wall, it is very soft all the dry wall is cleaned off but the paper and glue is still on it. the glue and paper seem to burn off ok just stinks . I have not added any tin or antimony I have never had a problem like this before.   

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Shielding lead is usually just pure soft lead. Do you know how hot you are getting it?

I suppose it's possible that you found a batch of shielding that was alloyed with something else, but even in that case it would eventually all get scooped off.

Does your pot still work OK with a different batch of ingots?

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The pot works ok with pure plumbers lead , I have 600 lbs of the shielding lead that I got for free so I want to use it if I can . I pour jigs for the most part  for myself and a few friends .  I just never had this much trouble pouring before , My pot is getting the lead good and hot. I flux the lead often so I don't know where the problem is.

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Lead fluxing is a continuous process. I melt all my lead in a 3 quart cast iron Dutch oven and toss a small pea sized lump of wax (crayon piece, paraffin cube, or lump of beeswax) on top of the molten metal. It usually melts and starts to burn so using a long slotted spoon, I stir it till the flames die. The fire is consuming the oxidation so the dirt and contaminates float to the top and I skim them off. I do this 4 or5 times and sometimes more if I'm melting firing range lead. You'll know if it's contaminates, it's not heavy like the metal. I try to limit each pot to approx. 20 pounds because the larger batches are hard to keep stirring without getting my hand too hot in the glove. once I get a liquid mirror appearance on the metal after fluxing, I add the sawdust, borax, or powdered charcoal to prevent oxidation. the liquid metal is poured into ingot molds and cooled for placing on my stack. When it goes into my casting pots, one is a Lyman and the other is RCBS, I flux again , usually twice and add borax or powdered charcoal to prevent oxidation. Every time metal is added to the pot, the fluxing and adding of antioxidants is repeated. I also have shot makers with orifice holes that are super small. They'll clog up a lot faster than the nozzle of a lead pot. With that covered....problems with the lead not coming out of your bottom pour pot can pretty much be narrowed down to contaminants being stuck in the outlet orifice or temperature too low. To clean the contaminates, you have to melt the lead if the pot isn't empty and remove the needle and clean it with steel wool. the seat needs a good cleaning also. Get a good thermometer, either analog or digital that you can measure up to around 800 degrees with and check to see if your pot is getting the lead hot enough. I'm not an equipment evaluator, but I have never had a Lee pot that I could use to pour large jigs or large sinkers with. They didn't give a fast enough flow to prevent wrinkles. If you've covered all those bases, then that lead shielding is probably an alloy that's been contaminated with copper, zinc, or some other wicked metal that makes lead turn into a caster's nightmare.

 

Edited by Big A
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When I smelt the lead outside I use a cast iron pot after I have fluxed the lead I pour the lead into a cast iron corn bread mold that fits my small Lee pot real well . In the big pot I flux and stir quite a bit and just about the time I think I have it clean more dross comes to the surface. Even after cleaning the lead for several hours I still get dross on the surface . It also has a film of gold color on the surface when it is not being stirred.  

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Both Zinc and Copper can give the gold colors,,,lead is either silver, and takes on a purple/blue color when overheated. I tried to copy a link from a files folder on facebook to share with you, but the link will not paste in this forum. It's in the files of a Facebook Group called Cast Boolits. It's a PDF file of a book titled From Ingot to Target, and it's a very detailed book on lead cleaning, fluxing. alloying, and all aspects of bullet casting. Cleaning lead of impurities can be done, but it's beyond the scope of us amateur casters! Some of the chemicals used are very toxic and can be deadly.

 

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